December 5, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Androinica.com takes a look at new apps in the Android Market each week, then wraps them all in a nice little package to share with you, our lovely readers. In this week’s edition of Android Apps Alert, we take a look at a few handy utilities, exciting games, and music makers that you may want to put on your Android phones and tablets. Enjoy!
NBA King of Courts
The NBA lockout has ended and basketball fans will see their favorite players this Christmas. But you can take to the virtual courts right now and play this augmented reality game where players challenge each other in how many baskets they can score. King of the Courts is a incredibly simple game where a user taps the screen when a bar approaches a target zone. The closer a white meter is to a green meter, the better the shot.
Whichever player makes the most baskets in a given amount of time becomes the King of that court and rules the leaderboard. Courts are set-up as designated locations, so you can be the king at your house, job, bus stop, or even the arena of your local franchise. Kings can make it tougher on their challengers by putting up roadblocks, and there are contests and bonuses available to those who are most successful. The game isn’t very exciting, but the competitive aspect and potential for real-world rewards might make it worth downloading.
Zen Pinball THD
Android 2.3.7+ required
Tegra device required
Zen Pinball THD is a pinball game. You really can’t describe it any simpler than that because that’s what the game boils down to. But Zen Pinball makes up for what it lacks in complexity with great graphics and challenging fun. The game includes OpenFeint to show global leaderboards as well as competition between friends, so there’s always an incentive to push your high score. The uniquely-design board includes plenty of bonuses to make that happen, but there are also some traps that require quick thinking and reflex taps on the left or right screen. Zen Pinball THD is a free game for the basic level, but an in-app purchase is necessary for the Wolverine or Fantastic Four levels.
One of the greatest aspects of the digital music revolution has been the increased options for discovering new music. However, many streaming apps fail to facilitate the classic way that people have always discovered new music – their friends. Ex.fm is popular among Chrome users thanks to an awesome extension that plays music imported from top blogs, featured artists, and designated tastemakers. It also lets members follow other users who share similar tastes – and it does on Android, too.
The ex.fm Android app has a polished UI to stream music from the people you follow, tastemakers, and locally-stored MP3′s. Streaming songs can be favorites or published, while local songs are browsed by Genres, Artist, Albums, and Songs. Add in the ability to connect to Facebook, Last.fm, Tumblr, and Twitter, and you’ve got a beautiful, simple, and social music player.
Path started out as a photo-sharing application with a focus on people you actually now. By limiting members to only 50 friends, Path set itself apart as a limited personal social network. This week, the company expanded beyond photo-sharing and is now a “smart journal” to share with more people and more places. Path posts photos, check-ins, songs, status updates, and sleep/awake announcements with friends.
It also shares to Facebook and Foursquare, extending the reach of the app further. However, Path is attempting to become another social network and that may be a problem for them. I literally have no friends actively using it, so there’s no incentive to use this rather than Google+ or Twitter or Foursquare. As gorgeous as the app is now, the only people who will enjoy that beauty are the ones who can encourage adoption among their inner circle.
The FedEx delivery man is at my door often enough for us to be on a first name basis, so I was naturally delighted to see that FedEx has released it’s official android application. Now, instead of obsessively peeping out of the window whenever I hear a van, or constantly checking my computer, I can monitor my packages directly from an Android device.
FedEx Mobile tracks and sends packages directly from the phone. The app shows updates on package locations based on tracking numbers, and can provide notifications within the app. For shipping purposes, the app can also access fedex.com address books, provide quotes for shipping costs, location FedEx drop-off locations, and even create a shipping label. It’s a perfect for anyone who sends or receives FedEx shipments frequently.
Macy’s is one of the biggest retailers in the U.S., so anyone who frequents the department store should take a look at this app. It includes all of the obvious features one would expect: it locates stores, shows special offers and coupon codes to use at checkout, and provides account management for paying store credit card bills or seeing balances.
A couple other great features available in the Macy’s app are scanning and registry management. Macy’s has in-store scanners that show item price; but instead of trying to locate one, the app scans to get prices as well as reviews and product info. And if you’re registered at Macy’s for a wedding – or searching for a registry – the Gift Registry feature can create and manage lists. This feature appears to be handled by a wrapper on the mobile web, but it’s still convenient to have on the go.
Android 2.1+ required
Email, Facebook, SMS, and Twitter. There are plenty of ways to communicate with someone, and meshing aggregates them all into one application. The app links with your accounts to provide a unified view of Gmail, texts, and private messages. VIP’s (frequent contacts) have their own tab, and users can create Streams that group interactions with select contacts. meshIn is limited because it only displays the contacts. To respond, the person still has to go to another app capable of sending messages. However, for people with a ton of contacts and messages in multiple places, it could come in handy to have them all displayed in one place. Meshin prioritizes communication and serves as a central archive of your most important messages.
Android Apps Reviews & News of the Week
- BaconReader is a reddit Android app that makes everything better – as bacon always does [App Reviews]
- EA FIFA 12 launches as exclusive game for Sony Ericsson Xperia phones
- Reminder: Rhapsody and Napster are now one service/app
- Box teams up with LG, offers 50GB of free storage to LG Android owners
- Time Warner Cable lands on Android tablets
- Sonos Controller adds Android tablet support, Slacker, and better Spotify streaming
- Google Maps 6.0 puts indoor maps & ICS look on your Android device
- The Passenger Ep. 1 – A beautiful and mysterious point and touch game [Game Review]
- VectorNav VPE delivers more accurate Android sensor technology, better gaming experience
- HighlightCam auto-creates stylish videos mixing home movies by you and your friends
- South Korea, Android’s 2nd biggest market, regains Android Market gaming options
- Turn your Android into a Baby Monitor! [App Review]
- Google Catalogs digitizes famous shopping catalogs for Android tablets (US only)